Israel Raids UN-Run School in Palestinian Camp, Trapping staff and Causing Damage
Palestine-Israel, Politics, 3/14/2002
The United Nations relief agency assisting Palestine refugees reported Tuesday that one of its schools in the Ramallah area had been occupied by Israeli troops and turned into an observation and detention point, trapping many UN staff who were unable to leave the premises, fearing for their lives.
After surrounding the Amari refugee camp in the early hours of March 12, Israeli army units conducted a house-to-house search campaign of several quarters and then entered a boys' school, according to a statement issued Tuesday in the West Bank by UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which runs the school.
"Tanks tore down the wall surrounding the school and took over the top floors, turning the school into an observation post and a staging area for the soldiers," the Agency said. "The school compound was used to detain scores of camp residents who were held at gunpoint in sitting positions with their hands on their head."
Soldiers also broke into a clinic run by the Agency, "punching large holes in the walls leading to the nearby Youth Center and causing other damage," according to the statement. "Several UNRWA staff members were trapped inside UNRWA installations for more than 36 hours after the army broke into the camp and were unable to leave the premises, fearing for their lives."
Responding to pleas from camp residents and from the nearby Ramallah hospital, UNRWA aid workers were able to enter Amari camp Tuesday afternoon to deliver emergency food parcels. They reported that camp residents were fearful that the situation would deteriorate further.
The raid at Amari followed "a pattern of UNRWA schools in refugee camps being used by IDF [Israeli Defence Force] as detention centers since the incursion into the camps began on February 27," the Agency said, recalling that over the past two weeks it had lodged strong protests with the Israeli Government against such actions.
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